“People were very scared in March and April and this has an effect on short-term behavior, but it is not clear how long it will last,” Guendalina Graffigna, professor of psychology at the Catholic University of Milan, told The Wall Street Journal. “We are a Mediterranean country and we often act on the basis of our emotions, more than in other countries”He added. For this reason too, notes the same newspaper, the habit of wearing a mask in public (common for decades in several Asian countries) has become more established in Italian society than in other European countries. Anti-mask protests, for example, have been less frequent in Rome than in other Western cities.
In parallel with the implementation of rigorous and timely measures, experts point to the lessons learned from the Italian public health system in the first phase of the pandemic, which allowed the country to put in place effective screening and testing procedures for the population. “Whenever there is a positive test, we test all those who may have been in contact with it. The real problem with this epidemic is cases without symptoms. If we don’t intercept them, we don’t get out of it”, Explained Andrea Crisanti in the same statements to the Financial Times. According to Italian authorities, more than two-thirds of Italians who were diagnosed with the disease were not identified for having symptoms, but through the screening system implemented in the country – including through the mobile application “Immuni”.
“By quickly identifying new positives, with the help of health departments, we are intercepting new outbreaks by isolating all close contacts”, Public health consultant for the Emilia-Romagna region, Raffaele Donini, added to The Telegraph. Also with regard to isolation practices to ensure that new outbreaks are blocked, the Italian authorities have not let their guard down. While France reduced the quarantine period to seven days and Spain to ten (in some circumstances), Italy maintains the rule that quarantine is 14 days.
Data compiled by the Our World in Data platform shows that Italy is one of the countries where the percentage of positive tests is lower. While 10.5% of the tests carried out in Spain and 5.8% of those carried out in France return a positive result, in Italy only 2.8% of the tests return positive. This indicator confirms that the spread of the virus is considerably less in Italy than in Spain and France. The lower the percentage of tests with a positive result, the more comprehensive the testing is (not limited to those who have symptoms) and the less likely it is that there will be positive cases escaping the test grid. One of the criteria used by the World Health Organization to recommend the reopening of economic activity is precisely the percentage of positive tests, which must be below 5%.